Veterans’ Health Week: Chairman of Soldier On, Peter Leahy on 2CC Breakfast Show

“For many [veterans] it is quite difficult [to transition back into civilian life] and, as we have seen with great sadness, too many of them are dying because of suicide… that’s the worst of it.”

“But others find it really quite difficult to find a job; to connect into the community because they have been away. They have seen some pretty awful things. Some of them have been injured in really quite terrible manners. Some of them are finding it difficult in their families.”

“So I think what we can take from [Veterans’ Health Week] is good on DVA for doing it. But also say to the community reach out [to veterans] and say, ‘Can I help you?/ What’s going on?/ What have you done?’… This is a really good week for the public to stand up and say, ‘We really appreciate what our veterans have done. What can we do to help you now?’”

– LTGEN Peter Leahy AC (r’td), Chairman of Soldier On and former chief of army.

Listen to the full interview, which was on the 2CC in Canberra this morning:http://bit.ly/2evEkva

Veterans’ Health Week: Centre to support veterans officially opens in Perth

Veterans’ Health Week: Centre to support veterans officially opens in Perth

  • Federal Member for Canning, Andrew Hastie will officially open centre to support veterans on Monday, 24 October
  • Centre is delivered by veteran organisation Soldier On
  • Centre is named after Trooper Jason Brown, who was from the Special Air Service Regiment and killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010
  • Andrew Hastie and CEO of Soldier On, John Bale will be available for interview at the opening
  • The theme of Veterans’ Health Week is social connectivity

Federal Member for Canning, Andrew Hastie will today officially open a not-for-profit centre in Perth, which supports serving and ex-serving men and women successfully transition from the military to civilian life.

Delivered by veteran organisation Soldier On, the Jason Brown Reintegration and Recovery Centre will provide direct access to a range of support, services, resources and opportunities to veterans and their families in the Perth area.

“It’s an honour to be included in the opening of this excellent facility. The Jason Brown Recovery and Reintegration Centre will honour the memory of one of our fallen soldiers. It will provide hope, community and a pathway for veterans who are carrying physical, emotional and mental scars from their service in the Australian Defence Force.

“Importantly, ‘Soldier On’ was started by volunteers and that means veterans and families will be cared for by people who are truly committed to their recovery and transition back into Australian society. ‘Soldier On’ delivers personalised, local solutions to veterans and families in a way that is sensitive to their experiences in the ADF,” Mr Hastie said.

The official opening of the centre today, which is during Veterans’ Health Week, marks Soldier On’s continued efforts to provide veterans and their families with mental health support, social inclusion activities and programs, and employment, training and education support services. These services are aimed to heal the physical and mental scars that are often left after their time in service and help them forge new careers once they leave the military.

Soldier On Co-Founder and CEO, John Bale – a veteran himself – said the organisation’s mission is to reintegrate our servicemen and women into civilian life better than any previous generation in Australia’s history.

“When servicemen and women separate from the armed forces, either by choice or at the request of the defence force, in the blink of an eye they have lost their identity, purpose, career and best mates. That’s where we come in.”

“Veterans will have access a range of services through our Jason Brown Reintegration and Recovery Centre in Perth, including mental health support through free counselling sessions with our psychologist as well as activities and programs to help veterans reconnect with themselves, their loved ones and the wider community.”

“We will also soon be launching transition services, and, through this new centre, veterans will have access to our transition support officers in other parts of the country, who will help them leverage existing skillsets for civilian employment, identify gaps in their skillsets and identify appropriate training, education and career development opportunities to forge new career paths.”

Since Soldier On was established four-and-a-half years ago, it has assisted hundreds of veterans across Australia, with support centres in Canberra, Currumbin, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.

“I look forward to seeing the WA veteran community flourishing with the assistance of the Jason Brown Reintegration and Recovery Centre,” Mr Hastie said.

The centre is named after fallen serviceman, Trooper Jason Brown, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010. Trooper Brown was from the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment. He joined the Army on 13 June, 2000 and following Recruit and Initial Employment Training, Trooper Brown was posted to the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. In 2004 he joined the 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). On successful completion of the 2007 Selection Course, Trooper Brown became a member of the Special Air Service Regiment.

To learn more about Soldier On visit http://soldieron.org.au

Media Contacts:

Christy Muller, christy.muller@aph.gov.au, 0407 373 087

Nicole Thomson-Pride, nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au, 0428 076 773

John Bale Speech – Launch of ServiceNow & Soldier On Training Program

CANBERRA, 17 October 2016

Minister Dan Tehan, Assistant Minister Amanda Rishworth, the veterans and spouses who are soon to start this wonderful program, and to everyone else who has already been introduced.

Although many veterans have been impacted by their service over the last 20 years, and especially since our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, we cannot let this impact on their life, define them as an individual or as a group.

Veterans are highly trained men and women who have a broad range of skills, knowledge and attributes that make them leaders not just in uniform, but also out of it. Yes, many have been impacted by their service. But through the support of the community and organisations like ours, we can provide them with the support they need to have fulfilling and purposeful lives post service.

When we started Soldier On, one of our key aims was to ensure that the community understood the impact that our involvement in Afghanistan and the many other operations that we, as a country, had recently been involved in. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we were in a war, and almost daily our veterans were in contact with a resourceful and calculating enemy. However, due to the length of these conflicts, the impact of our most recent wars had been lost on our community. What was happening ‘over there’ seemed to have little impact on daily lives back in Australia. I think we forgot as a country, that at the end of every conflict or peacekeeping operation, veterans return home, and all those that return eventually leave the service and become civilians.

So, over the last four years, while helping veterans and families impacted by their service, we have been supporting the many voices who have been increasing the awareness of the cost of these conflicts. I believe now that we have a much better understanding of PTSD, operational stress injury, moral injury and the range of impacts that war, peacekeeping, disaster relief can have on veterans and their families.

However, I think through the process of building awareness, the Australian community has started to believe that veterans are also victims. Can I here today, categorically say that they are not. Yes, many have been impacted and need support, but the support they need is to help them with a hand-up and not a hand-out. To help them through the often tough transition phase out of the military and into employment, while ensuring that they have access to mental health support, and are given the chance to once again have strong social and family bonds.

These are exactly the programs that Soldier On is offering to those who have been impacted by their service. It is why we have decided to become a veteran service delivery organisation that can truly help re-integrate veterans and their families into the Australian community. Yes, a significant number of veterans will need support, and yes the road to recovery is never linear, and this support will be needed at different stages though a veteran and their families’ life…. but they deserve exactly that, support, not to be considered victims.

That is why we are so glad to be here today for the launch of the Service Now training opportunity for veterans and spouses to ensure that they are given that support to help them into empowering employment.

Through the support of our long time sponsors, the Citadel Group, and CSC and Accenture, these men and women will be given the keys to a range of opportunities in Australia’s fast growing IT sector.

This program and the many others that we will be launching over the next few months will complement our new employment program.

An Australian first, a not-for-profit veteran employment agency, internal to Soldier On, led by Mel Russell and her team of transition support officers.  We are lucky to have Mel as part as part of Soldier On after she joined us from the Australian Army Transition 4 Employment pilot while apart of the Support to Wounded Injured and Ill team. This new capability will help ensure veterans are supported into gainful employment, and that industry can see veterans and their spouses for what they really are, a smart business decision, a resource to Australian industry and also our community.

The Prime Ministers Veteran Employment Initiative which will be launched next month, and will ensure that Australian industry is primed to take on these well supported veterans and their families and give them the job opportunities they deserve.

We are proud that this initiative, which originated during round table discussions between veterans supported by Soldier On, and the Prime Minister at RSL North Bondi late last year, will soon be launched. Through the support and championing of Minister Tehan, the Prime Minister announced the initiative in early June of this year and my team have been doing some fantastic work to bring industry on-board in a well-defined framework while ensuring collaboration is achieved with other ex-service organisations. Minister, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, of the Department of Veterans Affairs we have and continue to be delighted to work with you, to ensure we can help make this wonderful initiative happen.

Let us recognise veterans and their spouses as a resource to our country.  Being impacted by your service, does not define your ability to be a valuable member of our country. We have so many case-studies of veterans who have been impacted; now gainfully employed, volunteering with strong mental health and with a great network of friends.

These veterans may need our support again in their future, unfortunately recovery is never linear, but we will be there to support them. We will be there with others to provide the services they need, so that our veterans are always considered a resource to our country, and can continue to serve Australia, both in, and out of uniform.

Thank you.

Media Release – Minister Dan Tehan Launches ServiceNow & Soldier On Veteran Reintegration Program

CANBERRA, Australia – October 17, 2016

Today the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Defence Personnel, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, officially launched the ServiceNow and Soldier On training program in Canberra.

Designed by ServiceNow in partnership with Soldier On, the training program will assist Australian veterans transition into civilian life with the technical skills required to meet a growing industry demand.

ServiceNow Managing Director David Oakley has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to becoming a strong partner with veterans as they transition to civilian life, ensuring they have the right tools to find rewarding work and expanding employment prospects. “We see ourselves as a part of the Defence ecosystem, and with our partners we will work to run a program that delivers rewarding and sustainable employment.”

Soldier On National Transitions Director Melissa Russell is excited about the program’s potential. “This training is very accessible and will help to not only enhance qualifications, but build the confidence of our participants and prepare them for the workforce,” she said. “They will realise their potential and that there is opportunity and support out there for veterans, post separation from the military. What’s more exciting, is that we have several Defence spouses enrolled on the course and we are able to assist them in identifying new employment pathways. Soldier On is so focused on supporting the entire family and it’s fantastic that we can demonstrate this through the ServiceNow training opportunity.”

Supported by Citadel Group, Accenture, and CSC, the ServiceNow program will assist Soldier On in its mission to achieve the best reintegrated generation of serving and ex-serving men and women in Australia’s history through training and placement programs. The initial pilot program will be rolled out this month, covering all aspects of Desktop Productivity, ITIL Foundation and ServiceNow Administrator’s Certificate to meet the industry’s mounting technology needs.

Co-Founder and CEO of Soldier On, John Bale says programs like the one ServiceNow is offering to veterans are important. “One of the biggest challenges our veterans’ have is how they transition into civilian employment,” he said. “We are delighted to be partnering with ServiceNow to provide skills for transitioning veterans that will bring them genuine job opportunities in a growing industry.”

About ServiceNow

ServiceNow is changing the way people work. With a service-orientation toward the activities, tasks and processes that make up day-to-day work life, we help the modern enterprise operate faster and be more scalable than ever before. Customers use our service model to define, structure and automate the flow of work, removing dependencies on email and spreadsheets to transform the delivery and management of services for the enterprise. ServiceNow enables service management for every department in the enterprise including IT, human resources, facilities, field service and more. We deliver a ‘lights-out, light-speed’
experience through our enterprise cloud – built to manage everything as a service. To find out how, visit www.servicenow.com. ServiceNow and the ServiceNow logo are registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. All other brand and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

About Soldier On

Soldier On’s mission is to achieve the best reintegrated generation of serving and ex-serving men and women in Australia’s history. To achieve this, Soldier On provides a range of services, including free counselling sessions, wellbeing activities and programs, career coaching, employment-ready resources and job placement opportunities, to our veterans and their families. Our veterans and their families face a range of issues when they leave the Defence Force, from re-shaping a new identity and finding a new career to dealing with the mental impacts from their service, and Soldier On’s services, support, resources and job placement opportunities have been designed to help veterans and their families work through these issues and build successful futures.

John Bale, CEO and Co-Founder of Soldier On, Speech at Official Opening of the Michael Fussell Reintegration and Recovery Centre

Your Excellency and Mrs Hurley, The Fussell family represented by Ken and Dan Fussell, Madeline Fussell sends her regrets but is currently in Nauru. Veterans and their families, serving and ex-serving.  NSW Minister for Veterans Affairs; the Hon David Elliott MP — Member for Drummoyne — Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Roads, Industry, Resources and Energy – John Sidoti. Major General Gus Gilmore, Commander Forces Command, our ambassador Al Sparkes Cross of Valour. Our national corporate sponsors represented here today, Chairman of Defence Housing Australia, The Hon Sandy Macdonald, National Environmental Health and Safety Manager at Northrop Grumman Australia, Gary Lucas, Caputre Manager Logistics & Modernization at Northrop Grumman Ellen Moore, out from their US Headquarters in Washington DC , Chief Executive Officer of Fujitsu Australia, Mike Foster and John Coleman from Thales Australia. Our partners in providing colloborative services to our veteran community and their families we welcome the Chief Executive Officer of Legacy NSW John Hutcheson, President of War Widows Guild NSW Rhondda Vanzella, Concord and District RSL Sub-Branch President – Len Costelow, Secretary, Robert Turner and Vice Presidents, John Younie and Alex Gathercole,

Acting Area Manager for Sydney/Liverpool for the Defence Community Organisation, Jill Elliot, Melissa Quirk  from Pinups with a Cause and OJ Rushton from the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir.

Welcome also to Rachel Charles – Partner at Ernst & Young and the EY team.

And lastly I would like to thank Dr Tim Sinclair – General Manager of Concord Repatriation General Hospital, without the support of which we would not be here today and would not be able to talk about the exciting future that this opening heralds.

Again, everyone thank you all for being here.

As many of you would know today is World Mental Health Day, and it is therefore very appropriate that not only our Co-patrons, His Excellency General Hurley and Mrs Hurley, with Ken and Dan Fussell officially open this centre, but that I also highlight Soldier On’s focus on service delivery, and specifically mention the mental health support that we are offering in each of our centres including here at the Michael Fussell, Re-integration and Recovery Centre.

Soldier On is focused on helping veterans overcome any impacts from their service and build successful futures. We believe it is important to support all veterans impacted. Some may be impacted because they are finding their experience is hard to translate to a skill set looked favourably upon by Australian industry, while others may be impacted because they have a mental injury, such as PTSD, social alienation, anxiety and depression from their service to Australia.

By being proactive and by focusing on early intervention means we believe we will be able to stop veterans being further impacted in their and their families futures.

To achieve these aims Soldier On has become a service delivery veteran support organisation and has three broad service lines, we provide transition support; that is employment, volunteering and education opportunities for veterans and their families. Mental health support through psychologists who are based or soon to be based in all of our centers, including Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and now here at Concord Hospital.

Finally, the service we are best known for, and that is our social connectedness programs. Allowing veterans and their families to connect through coffee catch-ups, men’s, women’s and family weekends and a sports recovery program in partnership with Surfing Australia, Golf Australia, the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, Greater Western Sydney Giants, Wests Tigers and other sporting peak bodies and clubs. Together this provides a holistic service for the veteran and the family. To support them by having a strong network of friends and likeminded people, to give them mental health support and to ensure that all our programs are evidence base while they are provided opportunities for employment or volunteering roles that recognise their attributes and qualities.

Our movement to a service delivery organisation for veterans and their families impacted by their service, is best epitomised by the two new employed psychologists that are based at the Michael Fussell centre. They are soon to be joined by a recently recruited transition support officer. These new members of staff dramatically increase our service delivery capability and add to the four other amazing staff that we have already here that help build our social connectedness programs and provide outreach to veterans and families.

Besides our psychologists caring for ex-serving veterans and families, they are approved to provide these services through Garrison Health Services, ensuring we are also supporting serving members and their families.

We have moved to service delivery, and specifically to providing mental health support because we saw there was a gap. This gap was a wraparound support to the veteran and the family, by the community, especially once they had left the ADF. Although the ADF and DVA provide mental health support, it is this full ecosystem that we are providing, in a collaborative framework, which complements the work done by the ADF and DVA.

It is this collaborative and wrap around service delivery model which led us to Concord hospital in the first place. Since 2014 Concord Repatriation General Hospital has been working on a national centre of excellence for the clinical care of veterans and the families. We are honoured to partner with Concord in this endeavor, which will see a centre for veterans and their families that has no equal in Australia, and will be on the same level as Walter Reed in the United States and Headly Court in the United Kingdom. The General Manger of Concord will talk more on this exciting initiative and what it means for veterans later.

To ensure veteran support and family support is centered on them, we are also working closely with other veteran support and ex-service organisations to collaborate; like Legacy NSW, RSL DefenceCare and a large number of RSL sub-branches like our friends here today from Concord RSL Sub-branch and many others. This ensures a better level of support, a more coordinated level of support, for those that have done so much for us.

It is an especially proud element that these services are being offered in NSW and this centre, named after my mate Michael Fussell. It was his death, and the lack of a community organisation that supported those physically and psychologically impacted from their service which resulted in us starting Soldier On. I have a quote on my door at work which sums up my feelings about Michael and the work of Soldier On:

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.”  Henry David Thoreau

It is now my honour to ask our Co-Patron in Chief and Governor of NSW, His Excellency the Honorable General Hurley to make an address before formally opening the Michael Fussell Centre. Your Excellency.

Media Release – Centre to support veterans officially opens in Sydney

 

Monday, 10 October 2016  

Centre to support veterans officially opens in Sydney this afternoon

 

New South Wales Governor His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and Mrs Linda Hurley will this afternoon officially open a not-for-profit centre in Sydney, which supports serving and ex-serving men and women and their families transition into civilian life and build successful futures.

Delivered by veteran organisation Soldier On, the Michael Fussell Reintegration and Recovery Centre will provide direct access to a range of support, services, resources and opportunities to veterans and their families in Sydney. It is located on the grounds of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and the centre will form part of the future National Centre of Excellence for Veteran Support, proposed to open in 2020.

The official opening of the centre today, which coincides with World Mental Health Day, marks Soldier On’s continued efforts to provide veterans and their families with mental health support, social connectedness activities and programs, and employment, training and education support services. These services are aimed to heal the physical and mental scars that are often left after their time in service and help them build successful futures.

Soldier On Co-Founder and CEO, John Bale – a veteran himself – said the organisation’s mission is to reintegrate our servicemen and women into civilian life better than any previous generation in Australia’s history.

“In August it was revealed over 40 Australian veterans had taken their life so far this year, this highlights our contemporary veterans are not reintegrating back into society as well as they could be.”

“When servicemen and women separate from the armed forces, either by choice or at the request of the defence force, in the blink of an eye they have lost their identity, purpose, career and best mates. That’s where we come in.”

“In the last few months we have recruited two psychologists and a transition support officer for our Michael Fussell Reintegration and Recovery Centre in Sydney to deliver vital mental health support and employment, training and education services to veterans in need. These services, as well as our social connectedness programs and activities, are part of our holistic framework to help veterans and their families overcome any impacts from their service and build successful futures.”

The official opening of this Soldier On centre in Sydney expands their services across New South Wales. It provides pathways for returned servicemen and women to connect with others, and to gain the confidence and skills they need to find fulfilment away from Defence Force.  

Since Soldier On was established four-and-a-half years ago, it has assisted hundreds of veterans across Australia, with support centres in Canberra, Currumbin, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.

His Excellency General David Hurley said “As Co-Patrons (of Soldier On), Linda and I are delighted to support an organisation that has the interests of our contemporary veterans – and their families – at the very core of its work.”

“The transition from service careers to civilian life is often frustrating and stressful for veterans as they leave behind the world they know, their unit, their community and their job which has shaped their identity.”

“Their needs may range from educational and employment assistance to family and psychological counselling, with a focus on transition support.”

“This new centre fills a gap in our service provision. It is an exciting time for Soldier On and those they serve.”

The centre is named after fallen serviceman, Lieutenant Michael Fussell, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. This is especially fitting as Michael Fussell and Soldier on CEO and Co-Founder, John Bale, grew up together in Armidale and were friends. Not only did they attend high school together, but they would later attend the Royal Military College in Canberra together and both enjoy careers in the Australian Army.

John and Dr Danielle Clout conceived the idea for Soldier On following Michael Fussell’s death in Afghanistan. While an outpouring of support was shown towards Michael’s parents and families, they identified there was a lack of support for Michael’s mates – those who had served beside him in the Defence Force and Afghanistan, and who were impacted by his death. They recognised more support services were needed for contemporary veterans, and together with others set about providing those services

To learn more about Soldier On visit http://soldieron.org.au

Ends.

 Media Contact: Nicole Thomson-Pride, nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au, 0428 076 773

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